Beet Those Winter Blues!

Beets are a versatile and delicious vegetable. Both the beet and its greens are edible, and can be used in a variety of tasty and simple dishes. Beets come in a red-purple colour, as well as golden-yellow. They’re a good source of potassium, a nutrient that helps the body maintain a healthy blood pressure; and folate, a nutrient that’s especially important for pregnant women and women who could become pregnant. Beets are very good for maintaining cardiovascular health, because they contain betaine which lowers homocystine levels, and your risk of cardiovascular disease. Beets also contain high levels of vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals, so grab a beet and avoid that cold going around.

Once you get beets home, cut the greens off (leaving only 1-2 inches of stem) and refrigerate both the beets and the greens. The beets will last up to a week in the fridge, but the greens should be used within 2 days. Both the purple-red and golden beets are great served sliced up in a salad or on their own. Typically beets are cooked before eating them. To keep the colour from seeping out, clean them thoroughly and then cook them with the skins on. Once cooked, you can remove the skin with minimal colour leaking. Beets can also be roasted with potatoes and carrots or other vegetables – just use a little olive oil and pepper and wrap them up in tin foil – they can be cooked in the oven, or on the barbeque. Raw beets can also be grated over salads, which adds nice colour to the dish. The greens are a nice addition to salad, but they can also be sautéed with a little canola or olive oil and seasoned with pepper and garlic for a unique side dish!

Here are a few recipes to try:

ROSEMARY ROASTED BEETS

3 small beets (we suggest Candy Cane)
2-3 tsp olive oil
1-2 rosemary leaves (more or less depending on how much you like rosemary)
1/3 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375°F and cut your beets into about 1 1/2 inch thickness (remember your gloves!). Place in a roasting pan lined with foil. Add the rosemary and wrap the foil over, making a pouch. Cook beets for about 35-40 minutes or until tender. All ovens are different, so keep checking on them!

Lower your oven setting to 350°F. Place the roasted beets on a baking pan and toss them in melted butter and oil. Place uncovered in the oven for about 15 minutes until heated through.

BEET, POTATO, CARROT, PICKLE AND APPLE SALAD
From Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan

2 medium beets
5 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
2 small potatoes
1 large carrot
2 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
dash of sugar
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large kosher sour pickle, diced
1 tart apple
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Preheat oven to 350. Cut tops off of the beets, scrub them, and place on baking sheet. Coat them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast for 1 hour. Remove from oven. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the potatoes until they are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from water, allow to cool before cutting into 1/2 inch cubes. Cook the carrot about about 5 minutes in that same boiling water. Remove with slotted spoon, cool and cut into 1/2 inch rounds.

Whisk together vinegar, garlic, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper to taste in a salad bowl. Stream in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Toss in the beets, potatoes, carrot, pickle, apple and eggs. Stir until everything is just coated with vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve the next day, either way garnished with fresh dill.

PASTA CARBONARA WITH BEET GREENS
Makes 2-3 portions

Boil pasta in salty water. While pasta is boiling, cut up a tablespoon or two of pancetta or bacon in small pieces, and fry it up. (Amounts to about two slices of store-bought bacon.)

Right after the bacon has started to crisp, add a large bunch of cleaned and roughly chopped beet greens, and stir around in the pan to wilt. Take pan off the heat, and cover with a lid to steam.

Crack open two eggs, and put yolks into large bowl. Refrigerate the whites for later use. (Maybe make an egg-white omelette with greens?) Grate some parmesan cheese, or any other strongly flavoured, hard cheese, into the bowl and mix with the egg yolks.

When pasta is done, strain and then immediately pour the pasta into the bowl with the egg yolks. The hot pasta will actually cook the yolks as they come into contact with each other, so make sure you thoroughly stir it up!

When the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce, add the hot wilted beet greens and bacon to the pasta and mix well. Top with a bit of freshly ground pepper and some more grated parmesan, and you’re ready to eat!

Updated from posts originally published in 2012

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